Professional Values and Ethics

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Professional Values and Ethics
Learning Team A
GEN200
November 15, 2010

Lisa Wittenhagen

Ethical standards and an individual's personal code of moral values are extremely subjective topics often based on belief systems. Furthermore, upbringing commonly influences an individual's code of ethics thus affecting important personal and professional decisions. Renowned Brazilian professor Valdemar W. Setzer once said of moral values, "Ethics is not definable, is not implementable, because it is not conscious; it involves not only our thinking, but also our feelings" (Thinkexist, 2010, para. 3). Setzer's idea that moral values are indefinable may be facetious, and ethics and values are definable; nevertheless thought and emotion are typically a basis for individual ethics.

Obviously companies set a foundation for business principles based on an ethically sound, value-based system, but individuals define his or her own personal ethics and values. Nevertheless, developing one's ethical system and beliefs is not an easy task; however, discovering and employing available resources to help with an emergent ethical system is essential. Although personal beliefs and upbringing are a basis for ethics and values, one's moral principles can positively influence but may also adversely affect career success.

Defining Values and Ethics

Values and ethics are inherently similar terms with regard to definition. In fact, the two terms are often mistaken for one another, and although the definitions vary slightly, each term has its own distinct characteristics thus making defining the term value and ethics essential for the business world. Values, for instance, are main beliefs that individuals consider he or she personally accountable for. Furthermore, values are a personal assessment list that represents an individual's highest priorities with regard to human behavior. In addition, an individual's value system is often contingent on an emotional investment to the aforementioned beliefs. For example, one may base his or her value system on the desire to be successful in business; whereas, another individual may base his or her values on generosity. Undoubtedly the elements by which an individual bases his or her value systems are vast.

Ethics, or moral conduct, helps to establish an understanding of the concept right and wrong within one's personal as well as business life, respectively. Quintessentially, business ethics entail the written and unwritten codes of conduct that govern all relative aspects of business and the execution of decisions in the company's daily operations. In other words, from a strictly business standpoint, ethics are the chief policies upon which an organization lays its business-related groundwork.

Without doubt value and ethical systems are indissoluble and often help define an individual; thus morally setting him or her apart by establishing discernable differences professionally and personally. Clearly developing values and ethics as well as applying the two in one’s professional life is essential to becoming successful in business.

Developing Ethics and Values in Business

Bahá'u'lláh, a 19th century Persian aristocrat and religion originator once profoundly said, "Commerce is a heaven, whose sun is trustworthiness and whose moon is truthfulness" (Value Quotes, 2010, para. 5). Bahá'u'lláh's quote has transcended time and is still very relevant in business today nearly 200 years later.

Values and Ethics are a significant component of all organizations regardless of business model. Furthermore, establishing values and ethics requires work and the commitment to maintain through times of success as well as times of turmoil; however, one does not have to develop his or her moral value system alone. After all one does not wake up one morning and decide what their beliefs are. Clearly following lineage, one will discover sources...
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